Tuesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1950. It’s part of their “I was curious” series that always features three panels. This one features a scrapbook that, despite the fact that it would appear to be from a picturesque location, shows the person on vacation and his beer, but not the vistas they would have been looking at. Good thing whoever he was travelling with captured the moment he first saw Schlitz, and then the moment he first tasted it. Funny, that’s what my vacation shots look like, too.
With the San Francisco Chronicle breaking the news last night about Anchor Brewery building a second, and much larger, brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, I was immediately keen to find out more. I knew from my earlier discussions with the new owners, and especially Keith Greggor, that they wanted to build the business but were dead set on keeping the business in San Francisco. But since they’re already the largest manufacturer within the city limits, that prospect must have been a daunting — and ultimately very expensive — task.
The new proposed brewery is being built in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. Here’s more information about it from the press release released this morning.
Anchor will continue to operate its facility in Potrero Hill, but will greatly expand its operations with the development of the Pier 48 facility. The two facilities will allow the company to quadruple its annual production capacity from 180,000 barrels to 680,000 barrels.
Pier 48, the southern-most structure of the Port’s Embarcadero Historic District, will be fully rehabilitated and re-established as an industrial hub of the central waterfront. The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse. Anchor will offer tours of the facilities and educational seminars with a focus on the history of craft beer, the art of craft distilling and Anchor’s history in San Francisco. The construction project beginning late 2014 will feature the use of green and sustainable materials, setting the standard for a modern urban brewery.
The Anchor expansion will create approximately 200 new jobs, 75% of which are production-oriented positions that employ a diverse work force.
“We are making things in San Francisco and creating a magnet for jobs for thousands of people from every background in our thriving local manufacturing sector,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Making sure our homegrown companies stay and grow right here in San Francisco remains my top priority and I want to thank Anchor Brewing and the San Francisco Giants for driving the engine of economic growth, bringing jobs and revitalizing our world class waterfront.”
The Anchor Brewery expansion project also represents the first major tenant of the Mission Rock Project — a new, mixed use urban neighborhood currently being developed by the San Francisco Giants. The Anchor Brewing facility will cover 22% of the overall project site.
“As a longtime partner of the Giants, we are delighted to welcome Anchor Brewing to the waterfront and to partner with them on what will become an exciting place for San Franciscans to live, work and play,” said Larry Baer, Giants President and CEO. “Given the rich history of the Giants and Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, it is only fitting that we work together to help transform this historic part of the City’s waterfront.”
In addition to Anchor Brewing’s new facility, the Mission Rock Project will include more than eight acres of parks and open space, 650-1,500 residential units, 1-1.7 million square feet office space, parking structure to serve ballpark and Mission Rock patrons, and up to 250,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and public amenities. In total, Mission Rock is expected to create 4,800 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.
Mission Rock Park will include Seawall Lot 337 (SWL 337) & Pier 48.
Last April, SocketSite began showing artist drawings of what the proposed site might look like with their post Mission Rock Plans Dusted Off With Giants Swinging For A 2015 Start and last month’s Giants Moving Forward With Massive “Mission Rock” Development.
Here’s an overview of the 27-acre site, of which approximately 22% will be the Anchor Brewery complex. It will apparently be 212,000 square feet and will ultimately allow total beer production to be increased to an impressive 680,000 barrels annually. “The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse.” As you can see in the drawing below, there will also be a substantial outdoor beer garden.
The interior of the proposed restaurant portion of the Anchor Brewery project, with the brewhouse visible in the background.
This afternoon, I had a chance to talk with Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, who was kind enough to fill me in on some of the other aspects of the project. Here’s what I learned.
Anchor has been talking to the Giants about the Mission Rock project for at least the last year and a half, and the city and Mayor Ed Lee are especially thrilled that a deal could be done. Apparently, it’s a perfect expression of Mayor Lee’s “keep and grow” concept for keeping businesses from leaving San Francisco as they succeed and grow larger. In fact, the mayor apparently suggested Anchor as a tenant, not realizing at the time that it might actually work. The Port is also very happy to have only one tenant, and it has to be a day and night difference having the city, local politicians and the landlord all very supportive and happy to have a brewery there, which is not the situation that often occurs.
Anchor will eventually take over all of Pier 48, but will begin renovating Shed A, and will later take on Shed B, too. The two sheds are essentially different buildings with what they call a “valley” in between. Most of the design work is done, and the first order of business will be to spruce up the building. They expect to move in during the 3rd Quarter of 2014 and be open by the 4th Quarter of 2015.
Perhaps the most amazing news is that they already have a brewhouse for the new location. About twenty years ago, a nearly exact duplicate of Anchor’s current copper brewhouse came on the market in Germany, and Fritz Maytag bought it, hoping to use it when Anchor expanded. But later Maytag decided against moving the brewery and instead had been storing the equipment ever since. The only difference between the two is that the newer one is over twice as big, and is a 270-barrel brewhouse. In addition to brewing at Pier 48, they will also have a working distillery there, but will also continue to make gin and whisky at the Potrero Hill location, too.
The museum portion of the project will include Anchor’s massive brewing book collection and breweriana, including a recent purchase of another collection from a gentlemen who’d been collecting his entire life and recently decided to sell it all. There will also be an educational component, and will be similar to their original concept of having a “Center of Excellence” that the Griffin Group talked about when they first bought Anchor. Greggor had been talking about the Mission Rock project with Fritz Maytag the entire time during the negotiations, and Maytag is reported to be very happy with the new brewery plan.
Still undecided is the restaurant, which will not be a brewpub. They may yet partner with someone to do the food, but since the restaurant will be one of the later parts of the project to be completed, they’re still weighing their options. The current estimate is that the restaurant won’t open until 2017.
Looking at it from all the angles, it really seems like an elegant solution to the thorny problem of how to grow the business without sacrificing what makes Anchor such a great brand. They’ll have a more public space, perfect for tourists, locals and baseball fans, and will be able to make even more Anchor beer right in San Francisco. It will create jobs, help with the economy and should attract more tenants to the Mission Rock development project. What’s not to like?
And finally, below is ABC 7‘s coverage of the news:
Chris Black, who along with his brother, owns the Falling Rock, the best beer bar in Denver and HQ for beer people during GABF, turns 50 today. Chris is a great guy and one of a handful of Publicans across the country doing things right when it comes to beer. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.
Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing with Chris at the Celebrator’s 18th Anniversary Party.
Lots of big announcements in the beer world this week, as the Boson Beer Co. made public today their plan to release Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans this summer. I can’t seem to find the original source this morning, but I clearly recall several years ago that Boston Beer founder Jim Koch was quoted at one time that Samuel Adams beer would never be in cans, but over time his stance began to soften, and by 2010 he was warming to the idea. At that time, he told Beer Business Daily that he did believe that someday Samuel Adams would be in cans, and was still looking at the BPA in liners as a not-quite-resolved-yet issue. Once upon a time, their 2005 “Beer Bill of Rights” included as Article VI: “Beer shall be offered in bottles, not cans, so that no brew is jeopardized with the taste of metal.”
That issue has largely been solved with the use of an organic polymer, but Boston Beer has apparently taken it one step farther, designing their own type of can for the project, “the Sam Can.”
From the press release:
Samuel Adams announced today that for the first time it plans to offer Samuel Adams Boston Lager in a can – but not just any can. The new can design — the result of two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing — aims to provide a drinking experience that is closer to the taste and comfort of drinking beer from a glass. The “Sam Can,” as the brewers call it, will hit shelves in early summer 2013, just in time for drinking occasions that call for the convenience of a can such as sporting events, boating or the beach.
“The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years,” says Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams. “In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn’t convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle. But cans have changed. And I believe we’ve designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can.”
Koch and the other brewers at Samuel Adams first worked with can manufacturer Ball Corporation to understand can design, technology, and how to package premium beer in cans. The brewers then worked with a design team at IDEO, a recognized global design firm, and finally enlisted the help of sensory expert, Roy Desrochers of GEI Consultants. Desrochers, a recognized beer flavor expert for the Master Brewer’s Association of the Americas (MBAA), has provided counsel to the brewing industry for almost three decades. With Desrochers’ help, Koch studied every aspect of the new can, from how it could potentially impact the flavor of Samuel Adam’s flagship Boston Lager to the ergonomics of how the beer flows from the can and hits the taste receptors on a drinker’s tongue.
“I worked with Jim and the other brewers at Sam Adams on an ergonomic and flavor study to understand the benefits of the new can,” says Desrochers. “The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience – something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience.”
The difference in drinking out of the new can as compared to a standard can will be modest, but drinkers should notice enhanced flavors and a more comfortable experience. The position of the can opening and wider lid, naturally opens up the mouth allowing for more air flow and positions the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer. A little known fact is that most of what we think we taste is actually what we smell – that’s why it’s hard to taste food with a stuffed up nose. Drinkers also noticed that the extended, curved lip of the can delivered the beer to the front of the palate to maximize the early enjoyment of the malt sweetness.
Koch’s end goal in developing a new can is to provide drinkers with the best possible Boston Lager drinking experience when they prefer the convenience of a can, like on the golf course or at the beach, without compromising the taste of his first and favorite beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Celebrating the flavors and ingredients in Boston Lager is what also led to the development of the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass in 2007, also the result of a lengthy research project to enhance the beer drinking experience.
“The new Sam Can required a million dollar investment in special equipment tooling along with time, research and testing. This new can will also cost more than the standard can to produce. It may seem a little crazy to make that kind of investment, but we felt the slight improvement in the drinking experience was worth the expense. We made decisions based on the beer, not on the bottom line,” Koch explains. “We’ve done tastings here at the brewery, with Sam Adams drinkers and our experts, “and now, we’re proud to launch Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans. We have a vessel that gives our drinkers the best tasting Samuel Adams in a can.”
Among the many advantages of cans is that drinkers prefer cans in certain circumstances where bottles are often not allowed or convenient, such as beaches, parks, pools, sporting events, boats and airplanes. Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans will be available in 12-packs nationwide beginning early summer, for a suggested retail price of $14.99-17.99 (price varies by market).
Of course, the fact that many other regional breweries have put their beer in cans, too — Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Brooklyn Brewery, RedHook, etc. — has to have been a factor, too. Still, for can fans this is great news. Cans have outsold beer in bottles for the big brewers for decades, and at least as long as 1980, if not longer, so it only makes sense that as craft brewers grow larger that such a popular package would become part of their portfolios, as well, as they continue to take a bigger and bigger piece of the nationwide beer pie.